Johnson City mall closed until further notice

The Mall at Johnson City is located at 2011 N. Roan St.

Washington Prime Group, the company that owns The Mall at Johnson City, filed Sunday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In a statement, the company said there will be no impact on operations, including leasing and redevelopment, at the Mall at Johnson City.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the company said, has created significant challenges for many companies, including Washington Prime Group.

"The Company has determined that the Chapter 11 path is the most effective next step to resolve the Company’s outstanding indebtedness as we emerge from the pandemic," Washington Prime Group said. "Throughout the Company’s Chapter 11 process, we expect business as usual at The Mall at Johnson City, where our tenants, sponsors and employees will continue operating as normal, with a focus on providing enjoyable experiences for our guests."

The company added the Johnson City mall is a "non-debtor" and will not be impacted by company's Chapter 11 financial restructuring.

According to Reuters, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to temporarily close some of its approximately 100 shopping centers. Businesses, Reuters reported, were also unable to pay the company rent.

In a news release Sunday, the company said it is entering Chapter 11 after executing a restructuring support agreement with creditors that hold the majority of its outstanding secured corporate debt and unsecured notes.

“The Company will utilize Chapter 11 to implement a comprehensive and consensual financial restructuring of the Company’s corporate-level debt that will allow the Company to substantially deleverage its balance sheet and strengthen its business and operations going forward,” Washington Prime Group said in the release.

The company said it has secured $100 million in debtor-in-possession financing, which will support day-to-day operations during the Chapter 11 process.

“Washington Prime Group’s guests, retailers and business partners can expect business as usual at all of the Company’s retail town centers throughout the proceedings,” the release said.

Mall making improvements

The Johnson City mall has undergone a number of renovations over the past few years and has introduced several new tenants to its lineup. In March, it announced that it would conduct an exterior renovation of the entrance next to Dick’s Sporting Goods, which would include a new greenspace for outdoor events and activities.

The exterior renovation also includes new outdoor seating, fire pits and festive lighting. Space will also be set aside for food trucks. The mall said in March the exterior renovation would wrap up by summer 2021.

Two restaurants, Chicken Salad Chick and Chipotle Mexican Grill, recently opened at a new multi-tenant building along North Roan Street. Retailers Palmetto Moon, Rose & Remington and Curve & Cloth have also recently opened.

Additionally, the mall has been constructing a new space for HomeGoods, a home furnishing store that will occupy a spot previously held by Sears.

Mall officials said in October that they expected the location would open by the fall. They added that renovations to the mall’s interior common areas and entrances would be complete in 2022, which would include aesthetic upgrades like new seating, lighting, flooring and finishes.

On March 17, the mall marked its 50th year since its grand opening in 1971. An official celebration commemorating the anniversary was delayed to 2022 as a precaution against COVID-19.

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David Floyd covers Johnson City government, Johnson City schools and Ballad Health for the Johnson City Press. He grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from ETSU, where he was the executive editor of the school paper.

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